Brad Lichtenstein’s look at the wide-ranging impact of the closure of a GM plant premiered on Independent Lens last October. In addition to its national broadcast, the doc’s festival run has included Chicago, Milwaukee, Albuquerque, Kansas, and Oregon, with Big Sky coming up this month. FilmBuff has made the film available on VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, Roxionow, Xbox, and Playstation.
Lichtenstein exposes the US financial crisis in microcosm, focusing on a small Wisconsin town over three years, beginning in 2009. Faced with the closure of a long-standing, job-providing GM auto plant, Janesville’s citizens are facing desperate times. While some workers are able to keep their jobs, they’re essentially forced to relocate or lose all their benefits, leading to subjects like Angie and Gayle leaving their families in order to provide for them. Others, like Cindy, depend on unemployment and federally-funded re-education programs, in the hopes that they’ll be able to find better jobs in the end. Meanwhile, local business leaders try to kickstart the economy by banding together to woo new enterprises to set up shop in their town, promising costly incentives in the form of tax breaks and reduced regulation. In the midst of this, Republican Governor Scott Walker begins his all-out assault on unions, precipitating massive protests and a divisive recall election. Balancing multiple threads, Lichtenstein’s eye-opening doc reveals the heavy price of partisan politics, corporate greed, and failed economic policies – with the average citizen left wondering how s/he will pay the bills.
Tied to tonight’s Independent Lens’ re-broadcast is the launch of BizVizz, a new iPhone app aiming to provide citizens with information about corporate accountability. Featuring 300 companies and nearly 1000 brands, the app displays a corporation’s tax data, government subsidies, and campaign donation records, helping consumers who want more transparency from the businesses they support. For more information about the app or to download it, visit its website.